Tuesday, October 19

Spain preserves its “positive agenda” with China despite NATO’s warning


It is hoped to keep the trade and security relationship balanced despite the escalation between the US and Beijing

Pedro S
Pedro Snchez receives Chinese President Xi Jinping in La Moncloa in November 2018.BERNARDO DAZ
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In the world there are 104 raw materials for industrial production and 57% are in China. Even if we wanted to, we could not do without the Asian giant. But the pandemic has ended up revealing to a country that it wants to be the world’s leading power. Here in the EU has given an enormous margin of confidence for many years until verifying the asymmetry of his relationship with Pekn.

In April 2019, Brussels He decided not to fool himself any longer and explicitly the opening of a more critical stage. In December 2020 it reached a EU-China Investment Agreement, to alleviate the regulatory imbalance and improve the position of European companies. The European Parliament now keeps it frozen after China’s response to sanctions for the “genocide” of the Muslim minority in Xinjiang, which he replied, censuring five MEPs and the Subcommittee on Human Rights.

Two MEPs, Antonio Lpez-Istriz, Secretary General of the European People’s Party and member of the Foreign Commission, and Immaculate Lopez Piero, Socialist spokesman in the International Trade Commission, weave this story two-handed. Piero assumes that “you have to be critical of everything they have been allowed to do” and Isturiz points to a “180 degree turn” in the EU.

Two weeks ago, the NATO Summit certified that China clearly poses a threat because “its growing influence and international policies are challenges to our security.”

Nobody wants to close their eyes anymore. Neither the Atlantic Alliance nor the EU, although interests here are more disparate. But, even though the context is now more aggressive, Spain wants to keep its relationship with Beijing safe.

Ana Slomon, Managing Director for North America, Eastern Europe, Asia and the Pacific Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explains that our country clings to the jump in the position of the EU in 2019: China is a “systemic rival” but also a trading partner.

In the purely bilateral, cooperation with Beijing is “good” at all levels and Spain “wants to advance a positive agenda” in general and in the face of global challenges, where its collaboration is essential such as climate change, global health or the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. This is also the message repeated by the Foreign Minister, Arancha Gonzlez Laya: “We have to create a space of understanding with China, it is a systemic actor that we have to incorporate into our challenges “.

This does not mean, explains Slomon, that “we are not aware” of the risk posed by China, the concern about its military power, its expansionism in the South Sea, the threats in cybersecurity, along the lines of NATO, “We share the concern “, he points out, but he is an” unquestionable global player. ” Is it compatible to keep both planes? The diplomat acknowledges that “it is not easy.”

The Presidents of the European Council, Charles Michel, and of the Commission
The presidents of the European Council, Charles Michel, and of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, greet Chinese President Xi Jinping by videoconference at a summit in 2020.REUTERS

Change of position

In general, Rodrguez Piero and Lpez-Istriz agree with the approach of Exteriors. The socialist spokeswoman assures that relations with China are “complex” but “essential” because “we have a level of dependence that we can try to reduce but not eliminate.” You have to try to comply with the rules of the World Trade Organization, that the EU remains “united” in the face of this world power and “agree on a common strategy with USA“, he maintains.

But López-Isturiz is more skeptical about whether the EU and Spain will be able to prolong this neutrality between the world’s first and second economies. “I don’t think that, unfortunately, we are facing a new Cold War.” “And sooner or later the EU will have to make a decision.” They both agree that we need the NATO umbrella. According to the politician popular, “China only understands force, nothing else.”

Now, he adds, China is “more aggressive” and “I estimate that even the states most sympathetic to them will begin to change positions.” For this reason, he believes that Spain can happen as with Russia. The diplomatic conflict has been fled but both the interventionism in the Catalan crisis and the attempts to destabilize cybersecurity maneuvers have caused “relations to deteriorate.”

The European Union. It keeps the EU-China Investment Agreement frozen after Beijing’s response to sanctions for the genocide of the Muslim minority in Xinjiang.

La Otan. In recent weeks, he has raised his tone toward China: Its growing influence and international policies are challenges to our security.

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